This time last year, some of the boys on the Bullis track team were too injured from football season to participate in track in December. The team's most
decorated athlete, Eric Allen, did not make an appearance in a meet until late January due to a high hamstring injury. Other guys trickled in as they could
while some did not appear until the spring.
So is Bullis a football-first school?
Today in a phone interview, Coach Joe Lee described his athletes' mentality:
"As soon as football was over, they said, 'No, we don't want two to three weeks off. Give us a couple days and we'll be ready to go."
Lee reacted by first asking if they were serious and second if they were healthy. They responded yes to both.
"Their last football game was on the second Saturday in November. They came back and they were in practice by that Thursday working hard."
"They were healthy, they were motivated, and they realize the opportunity that has been placed before them to do some significant things for themselves
individually, for our school, for Montgomery County as well as the state of Maryland. They're not taking that for granted. They are those kind of
The team had a full month to train before coaches unleashed athletes in the first indoor track meet of the season at the Bishop Loughlin Games in Staten
Island, New York. Their performances were astounding and unprecedented, even for Bullis standards.
Both the boys and girls teams from Bullis won the meet while Eric Allen was named the Most Outstanding Male Athlete of the Meet.
Allen first recorded a county-leading 6.46 performance to take third place in the 55-meter dash. About an hour later, the team discussed pulling Allen out
of the open 300-meter dash when he drew lane 1 for the prelims.
Coach Lee actually stayed home due to a broken foot and communicated with athletes and assistant coaches throughout the day. He explained, "We were saying,
'Listen, it's going to be really tough to make the finals from lane 1.' We talked about it, me and Coach Derrick Johnson (who was the hero of
yesterday)...and it wound up being beneficial for us just to go ahead and run it."
Allen ran all-out from lane 1 to qualify for the finals with a time of 34.51. Then came the predicament of whether the team would run a 4x2 relay without
Allen, because he was certainly not going to run the 4x2 prelims immediately after the 300-meter finals. Again the coaches decided to just go for
Allen won the open 300-meter dash in 34.13 which is an all-time Montgomery County record, and the 4x2 relay (Austin Allen, Ashton Allen, Brendan Cogdell,
Caleb Mauney) qualified for the finals without Eric Allen with a time of 1:33.31.
"Eric goes from the 55 dash...an hour between those...about an hour to the 300...then the 300 finals (another hour)...and by that time he's spent. So we've
had four races in the span of about three hours. He's tired."
"I talked to him on the phone and I said, 'Hey look, I know you're tired, but guess what? This is what it's going to be like at the Penn Relays because of
the 4x1 finals, and the 4x4 trials and 4x4 finals are all on the same day. He's like, 'I got it, let's go.' That's all the motivation he needed."
Eric Allen led off the 4x2 finals, gave his team the lead, and his teammates (Austin Allen, Ashton Allen, Jalen Hill) took home the win in 1:28.47, which
is the fastest ever indoor 4x200-meter relay by a Montgomery County team.
The Bullis girls also did Bullis things, only this year, Bullis has about twice as much depth as ever before. Seven girls were under 7.50 in the 55-meter
dash. Eight girls were under 42.00 in the 300-meter dash. Three girls were under 40.00 in the 300-meter dash including Sierra Leonard (39.76), Lauryn
Harris (39.66), and Masai Russell (39.24) which is absolutely unprecedented for a Montgomery County team and striking for any high school team in America.
Four girls were under 8.80 in the 55-meter hurdles.
Does a team know what to do with all that depth?
"Our goal is just to keep helping kids improve," said Lee.
"You want to get them to maximize their talent. It's 'how can we best get them to achieve their highest potential?' ...It's really about knowing the
individual athlete so when we have the amount of depth and talent we have, they don't feel lost.'"
Ashton Allen is the youngest brother of Austin and Eric Allen. He recorded times of 35.60 in the 300-meter dash and 7.82 in the 55-meter hurdles. Both
performances were the fastest by a Montgomery County freshman at least since 2006 when Mocorunning started tracking such stats. The previous Montgomery
County "since 2006" freshman leader in both events was his brother, Eric.